A solar-powered plane that got stuck in Japan during an attempt to fly around the world is fixed and ready to go — as soon as the weather gets better, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
Solar Impulse 2 was diverted to the central city of Nagoya on its way between China and Hawaii because of a developing cold front over the Pacific that could have made its record-breaking journey too difficult.
After landing safely, the featherweight flying machine suffered some damage on the ground because of strong winds that lashed the airport while its crew were waiting to get it under shelter.
“The plane is ready,” team spokeswoman Elke Neumann told AFP. She said repairs to the the left aileron — the moving hinge on the trailing edge of the wing that controls the plane’s roll — were finished Wednesday.
Pilot Andre Borschberg said shortly after last Monday’s unscheduled landing that it would take at least a week to fix the problem.
The flight to Hawaii will be the airplane’s eighth and most ambitious leg of a record-breaking attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.
The venture, which began in Abu Dhabi, is intended to showcase the potential of renewable energy.
“The oxygen bottles inside #Si2’s cockpit are about to be filled in view of #Flight8,” the team’s @solarimpulse account tweeted Thursday.
With the technical hurdles cleared, the project is now waiting on a variable over which nobody has any control — the weather.
The pilot must try to find “a good weather window” not only in Japan, but also along the entire flightpath to Hawaii, Neumann said, something forecasters suggest is unlikely until at least Monday.
Japan’s rainy season is in full swing, with heavy downpours expected across a swathe of the country.
Once the team gives the green light for Borschberg to fly out of Nagoya, the journey to Hawaii is expected to take five days and nights.
If successful, that will smash the 44-hour continuous flight record for such a plane that he set from Nanjing, China, to Nagoya.